Bar + Block

Bar + Block: Why Join a Newly Opening Venue?

Whether you’re working as a chef, behind the bar, or serving tables, working in hospitality is always exciting. But there’s nothing more exciting than joining the team at a brand new opening venue. Bar + Block Steakhouse are launching two new restaurants which they’re hiring for right now – so we chatted to Francesco Acerra to find out what all the hype is about.

Ask anyone in hospitality – there’s nothing quite like working at a brand-spanking new venue – the excitement of a newly formed team, brand new decor to set up and lots of potential to grow. No doubt about it, there’s a real buzz in the air that you won’t find anywhere else.

With the popular Bar + Block Steakhouse (part of Whitbread) hiring right now for two hot new openings launching in Hammersmith and Paddington this January 2022, we thought we’d get chatting to Francesco Acerra, General Manager at Bar + Block Southwark, all about what it’s like to open a venue.

Francesco started off working at the Bar and Block in King’s Cross, before moving to Wimbledon and now to the recently opened venue in Southwark. He’s been working for Bar and Block for three years, and six years in total for Whitbread.

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“Before Bar + Block, I was working for Premier Inn which is also a part of Whitbread. I started off as a Night Team Member and worked my way up all the way to Hotel Manager. My first management position was only two years after joining. If you’re interested in progression, working your way up can be really fast – your Line Manager will support you during the entire process”

“We opened the Southwark venue last year during the pandemic, so it was quite a different experience. We weren’t sure when we were allowed to open it, so it was quite last minute. We had one week’s notice to open, but pandemic or not – the opening was just as exciting.”

“The amazing thing about Bar + Block is that we have a new scheme that is dedicated to new openings. So, for every opening, the General Manager will have a team dedicated to training their new team.”

“I remember one of my breakfast chefs joining the team prior to the opening. He had previously come from a Premier Inn which is quite a different environment, so it can be a big challenge for some people. Initially he wasn’t delivering like we were expecting him to, and was finding it hard to do the bare minimum. I remember sitting down with him and speaking to him to try to help him build his confidence. We connected really well and he ended up becoming the best breakfast chef I’ve ever managed in my life. Sometimes, a simple conversation can really change a team member’s faith in themself.”

“Before an opening, we have two pre-opening nights where we invite friends, family and colleagues over to trial service and give feedback to the teams. It’s always quite exciting as it’s the first time teams properly work together.”

“I remember the pre-opening night for Southwark’s. The night was splendid and the feedback was really good – we also managed to raise over two-hundred-and-fifty pounds for the GOSH charity who we are partnered with.”

“Joining an opening is one of the best chances to have a proper induction. If you demonstrate and show your skills, it’s your one way ticket to a management position. We will always give our team a say in the running of a new place.”

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“There’s nothing quite like a newly opened venue to work in. It’s a totally different feeling, it’s like a present. And then all of a sudden, it’s like your second home. It’s really powerful. You really get to bond with the team in a way that you don’t really have anywhere else.”

“I was a Night Team Member when we opened the Premier Inn in Wandsworth, and I still remember the amazing energy our trainers were giving us. They do a lot in terms of engagement.”

“There is space for creativity when you join a brand like Bar and Block, because it’s still a relatively new restaurant. We only opened the first one around five and a half years ago in Birmingham. So managers and teams have a lot of say in the shaping of the brand – such as impacting the creation of new menus, the chance to join new marketing positions, roles in brand identity and more. I get to give my own input that really makes a difference, and that’s what initially made me really want to join Bar and Block.”